With phases one and two of the ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) done and dusted, planning for the third phase in June along with “final offensive operations against al-Shabaab” are on the agenda.
Part of planning was a just completed four-day ATMIS military commanders’ conference in Mogadishu. Agenda items included the Somali political situation, assessment of security threats, conduct and impact of phases one and two drawdowns, reconfiguration capabilities for offensive operations, environmental protection and management as well as the post-ATMIS security posture.
Delegates were told by African Union (AU) Special Representative for Somalia and ATMIS Head, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef, the first two phases went well and “I’m sure phase three will also be concluded successfully”.
ATMIS withdrew 5 000 troops and handed 13 military bases to the Somali Security Forces (SSF) during the first and second phases of the drawdown.
“We are now moving into the most critical stage of the mission because by June we are going to draw down additional troops and you have to take into consideration force protection. It’s not easy, but we must surmount the challenges by remaining on the maximum alert during the transition period,” Souef told the conference.
An ATMIS statement gave no indication of troop numbers that will exit in June or how many bases the SSF would take control of.
“We deliberated on a wide range of issues. We examined Somalia’s security situation and put into consideration current Al-Shabaab posture as well as our mandate and the post-ATMIS security situation,” ATMIS Force Commander Lieutenant General Sam Okiding said at the close of the conference attended by sector commanders from the six ATMIS areas of responsibility (AoRs).